Shapes of Enclaves near Bangladesh-India Border

Maps of Bangladesh you may never seen or how to draw map the British way!

To draw a map of Bangladesh is not easy. It is close to impossible for anyone to draw an accurate and complete map of Bangladesh if all the enclaves are included into the account. No geography books in Bangladeshi schools have them drawn! These enclaves are also kind of unseen, forgotten and neglected because they are difficult to visit, communication are controlled, activities of daily life are limited, developments are unworkable.

What is an enclave? Enclaves (Chitmahal in Bangla) are defined as a fragment of one country totally surrounded by another. They are not uncommon – there are a good number of enclaves many parts of the world which were created due to historical, political or geographical reasons. However, Bangladesh-India enclaves together  represent 80% of the total number of enclaves existing in the world since the 1950s.

A British Lawyer, Cyril Radcliffe was given 37 days to draw a border between so called ‘Hindu’ India and ‘Muslim’ Pakistan in 1947. And he did it – without visiting the area, without knowledge of culture, in complete secrecy and destroyed all his papers before he left India. The border effected people, culture, geography, history and politics. Last Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten thought hundred thousand deaths as “an acceptable level of violence” – indeed millions died.

The number of existing enclaves in Bangladesh and India varies from source to source. The partition of the Indian subcontinent left 111 Indian enclaves inside Bangladesh and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves inside Indian territory according to one source. Other estimates count 130 Indian Chitmahals in Bangladesh and 95 Bangladesh Chitmahals in Indian territory or 102 Indian exclaves inside Bangladesh and 71 Bangladeshi ones inside India. [Source] Whatever the accurate number of enclaves, the combined population living in these areas between 50,000 to 100,000.

All these enclaves are different in shapes, sizes and characteristics. In fact, Indo-Bangladesh enclaves are perhaps the most interesting, enigmatic, strange, complicated and ‘swiss cheese’ kind of map exist today. Some enclaves are inside another enclave! Dahala Khagrabari is the world’s only third-order enclave, being Indian territory inside a Bangladeshi territory which is itself inside an exclave of India in Bangladesh. If a resident of Dahala Khagrabari, India wishes to reach Delhi, he/she must cross four international borders: first over into Bangladesh, then into India, back into Bangladesh again, and then, finally, into India.

Enough introduction. Lets have a look into some of the enclaves via Google Maps! Some enclave maps have direct link for further exploration.

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